BRACERS Record Detail for 19307

To access the original letter, email the Ready Division.

Collection code
Recent acquisition no.
Document no.
Box no.
Source if not BR
Malleson, Constance
Rinder, Gladys
Form of letter
BR's address code (if sender)
Notes and topics

This letter contains messages for Lydia Smith, Wildon Carr, A.N. Whitehead, Constance Malleson (called G.J.), Ottoline Morrell, Eva Kyle, Philip Jourdain, Dorothy Mackenzie, Miles Malleson. Message to Jourdain: "Is he going to print 2 of my logic lectures in July and 2 each subsequent quarter? I hope so. And can he guess how much money I shall get from them during the present year?"

Separate records have been recreated for the message to Constance Malleson, record 116563 and for that to Ottoline Morrell, record 119455.

This original letter has typed transcriptions as follows: ribbon copy (document .201168, record 116561), carbon (document .200299b, record 19327). Condensed transcription, typed carbon, document .054843, record 2635.

Two extracts have been typed as a part of a longer mimeo containing three letters in all: document .201205b, record 116562. Photocopies of this mimeo can be found in Rec. Acq. 399.

The letter as published in SLBR has some transcription errors.


Letter 7
21 MAY 1918
BRACERS 19307. ALS. McMaster. SLBR 2: #313
Previous Brixton letter, BRACERS 2076; next letter, BRACERS 19309
Edited by K. Blackwell, A. Bone, N. Griffin and S. Turcon

Number 2917 Name Russell B.1
Brixton Prison
21st May 1918.

Dear Miss Rinder

Not having received a letter from my brother when it was due, I have decided, especially as he is likely to be much away, that it will save trouble and worry all round if I make you my correspondent.2 So will you have the kindness to answer this letter on Saturday,3 and write in future every Saturday, or Friday night if more convenient? If you haven’t time, don’t trouble; my brother will continue when he can; but regularity and reliability in one’s weekly letter is important, otherwise one suffers from sleeplessness and headache through anxiety. Please always send my letter itself on to Percy,4 and relevant extracts to whoever they concern. — My brother and others will tell you what they want you to put in. Remember that what one wants is news of one’s friends — I get politics from the papers, and can manufacture sentiments and jokes on the premises, but news I can only get through visits and letters, and you know many friends of mine whom my visitors5 hitherto have not known. Tell my brother I wish you to be one of my visitors next week (Tuesday or Wednesday) — I have not asked for you before as I thought you were away on your holiday. Messages. To Miss Smith:6 From Washburn,7 The Animal Mind, p. 187: “Some very interesting behaviour was observed by Garrey in a school of the little fish called sticklebacks.8 He noted that if any object was moved along the side of the aquarium containing them, the whole school would move along a parallel line in the opposite direction” (Italics in original). To Wildon Carr: I have asked leave to see him and to send him MSS. but have not yet had any reply. He might perhaps approach H.O.9 I have written about 20,000 words of Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy,10 to follow lines of lectures before Xmas. Shall then work over lectures after Xmas (which I have, thanks).11 For the moment, shall probably not attempt to write on “Analysis of Mind”, but to read and think. Thanks for number of Psychological Review:12 , a read with great interest. No behaviourist so far as I can discover tackles any of the difficult parts of his problem. If any of them have written intelligently on analysis of belief,13 I wish to read them. Hope finish Introduction in another month or so. Prison is all right for reading and easy work, but would be impossible for really difficult thinking. All this is equally to Whitehead.

Tell G.J.14 I want more definite news. And who is G.15 who has the privilege of being right? Happy mortal — wish I were like him. I came across a letter from Buzot the Girondin to Madame Roland16 which is of such great historical interest that I am copying it out for G.J. to add to his collection.17 I might in time come across others of equal interest if he desired. Here it is: “Me voici, ma bien-aimée, privé de la joie de votre société et de la douce volupté de vos baisers. On pourrait me supposer encore d’autres ennuis, mais en cela on se tromperait. La seule chose qui me gêne, c’est l’interruption de l’amour qui m’a soutenu pendant les temps difficiles et pénibles par lesquels il a fallu passer. A part les griefs d’ordre personnel, on a eu à souffrir l’angoisse qui dérive de la ruine de la patrie par des ambitieux furibonds, et du danger de la destruction de la civilisation entière dans cette guerre qui devient de jour en jour plus atroce et plus acharnée. De tout cela, j’en ai souffert dans les temps passés. Comme tout esprit généreux, j’ai eu des rêves de bonheur universel; comme tout homme capable de droiture intellectuelle, j’ai dû abandonner ces rêves. Après une période de désespoir,18 j’ai appris à supprimer les émotions causées par les affaires publiques, et à trouver toute ma joie dans la sympathie, l’amour, le généreux courant vital, qui me sont venus de vous. Encore maintenant, c’est l’idée de vous, c’est le souvenir de nos temps heureux (surtout à l’avenue chez la Boismaison) qui me soutiennent.b Je me plais à me figurer vos journées, remplis de travail et de succès, donnant lieu à l’espoir que vos ambitions se réaliseront. Mes journées aussi, malgrèsc l’endroit où je me trouve, ne sont pas sans utilité. Mais je suis en proie à une impatience croissante, dévorante, pour le moment qui nous réunuira. Ne m’oubliez pas, ȏ mon âme. Rappelez vous que je ne songe qu’à vous nuit et jour, que c’est l’image du moment dans lequel je vous reverrai qui fait l’unique bonheur de mes méditations. Vos communications, surtout au jour de ma fête,19 m’ont causé une joie inexprimable; je baise le papier sur lequel ilsd se trouvent. Mon coeur est à vous entièrement. Toute la passion, tout le dévouement de mon être se donnent à vous. Au jour de la réunion et de la liberté! Votre amant, B.” The resemblance of past and present is amazing! End of message to G.J.


“Here I am, my beloved, deprived of the joy of your company and of the sweet, sensual pleasure of your kisses. You might suppose I still had other worries, but in that you would be mistaken. The only thing that concerns me is the interruption of the love that has sustained me during the difficult and painful times through which it has been necessary to pass. Apart from personal griefs, one has to suffer the anguish caused by the ruin of the country by ambitious madmen, and of the danger of the destruction of the whole of civilization in this war which becomes daily more atrocious and more fierce. From all that, I have suffered in the past. Like every generous spirit, I had dreams of universal happiness; like every man capable of thinking rightly, I have had to abandon these dreams. After a period of despair, I have learnt to suppress emotions caused by public affairs, and to find all my happiness in sympathy, love, the abundant living stream that has come to me from you. Even now, it is the thought of you, the memory of our happy times (especially the Woodhouses’ Avenue) which sustains me. I delight in imagining your days, filled with work and success, giving room to hope that your ambitions will be realized. My days too, even though I’m not where I want to be, are not without use. But I am tortured by a growing, devouring impatience for the moment that will reunite us. Do not forget me, O my soul. Remember that I dream only of you night and day, that the only happiness in my thoughts is in picturing the moment at which I’ll see you again. Your messages, especially on my birthday, have given me an inexpressible joy; I kiss the paper on which they are found. My heart is entirely yours. All the passion, all the devotion of my being pours out to you. To the day of reunion and freedom! Your lover, B.”

Message to Lady Ottoline: Many thanks for Michelet20 etc. I do hope I shall see her again before long at one of my weekly visits. My thoughts go very often to Garsington — I long to be sitting on the lawn discussing a million things. Please give Lytton my very warmest thanks for his book21 — I devoured it with the greatest delight — I read again all the parts I had heard before. It is brilliant, delicious, exquisitely civilized. I enjoyed as much as any the Gordon, which alone was quite new to me. I often laughed out loud in my cell while I was reading the book. — This to him; to you, also, some further reflections. He judges men by an artist’s standard, by whether they are delightful to contemplate; this places sincerity high among virtues, and makes the Victorians disgusting. But they had immense energy, and they had genuinely (in spite of cant) a wish to improve the world, and they did improve it. I prefer them to Bernhardi22 or Northcliffe, who are sincere but evil; I prefer them even to Lytton, who is sincere but indifferent to the rest of mankind. He does not sufficiently consider men as social forces. At the beginning of the Victorian era, starvation and ignorance were almost universal — at the end, there was little starvation and much education. Our age is pursuing the opposite course, and we shall need a set of Victorians to put us right. The useful man is not the same as the delightful man. Lytton punishes Florence Nightingale for killing Herbert,23 but he was one, for thousands she saved. End of message to Lady O. — To Eva: Sincerest commiseration.24 To P. Jourdain, Basingbourne Rd., Fleet, Hants: Is he going to print 2 of my logic lectures25 in July and 2 each subsequent quarter? I hope so. And can he guess how much money I shall get from him for them during the present year?26

Life here is very monotonous. If any little thing goes wrong, or if any worry settles on one, it is difficult to shake it off. For the first time in my life almost, I am seriously reflecting how poor I am! This is a sign of vigour that can’t find its proper outlet. I try not to think much about public affairs, as one is cut off from action. I like reading about the Amazon,27 or anything remote and free. I am tired, but the life here is restful. I read enormously, and write a good deal. But it would be impossible to do really good writing here, because one dare not get excited. There is no denying that I shall be glad to get out — I sincerely hope it may be before the whole six months are over. But it is only boring, being here; I can’t pretend it does any real harm, though it would if anything happened to start one worrying.

I hope you had a good holiday and are finding Adam Street not un-home-like.28 Tell Miss Mackenzie I am very glad West is to be published;29 and tell Miles I am glad about Young Heaven30 and sorry about 2nd Thoughts,31 , e though the latter had a longer run than I expected. Love to every one.

Yours very sincerely
Bertrand Russell.

  • 1

    [document] The letter was edited from the signed original in BR’s handwriting in the Russell Archives. On the blue correspondence form of the prison system, it consists of a single sheet folded once vertically and twice horizontally; all four sides are filled. Particulars, such as BR’s name and number, were entered in an unknown hand. Prisoners’ correspondence was subject to the approval of the governor or his deputy. This letter has “HB” (for an unidentified deputy of the governor) handwritten at the top, making it an “official” letter. The letter was published as #313 in Vol. 2 of BR’s Selected Letters.

  • 2

    make you my correspondent BR was allowed to receive and send one official letter per week. The first two (Letters 2 and 5) had been written to Frank Russell.

  • 3

    answer this letter on Saturday Rinder did so (25 May 1918, BRACERS 79611).

  • 4

    Percy BR identified “Percy” on a note on document .079967, BRACERS 116566: “Another pseudonym for Colette.” “Percy” was a nickname used by Colette’s family and which she continued to use in family correspondence decades later.

  • 5

    my visitors BR was restricted to one personal visit of three people for half an hour once a week, every Tuesday or Wednesday. Business visits were less restrictive.

  • 6

    Miss Smith Probably Lydia Smith, a Quaker schoolteacher who was editing The Tribunal.

  • 7

    Washburn M.F. Washburn’s The Animal Mind: a Text-Book of Comparative Psychology (1908) was among the many books on psychology BR read in prison.

  • 8

    sticklebacks The passage about sticklebacks is an inside joke arising from BR’s appeal. His counsel, Tindal Atkinson, KC, had pointed out that a letter criticizing America’s war effort had been published in The Times, yet it had not been prosecuted. According to “Our Prosecution”, The Tribunal (no. 107 [9 May 1918]: 2), he said that “It appeared like a case of catching the minnow and letting the whale go free. He thought perhaps the word ‘minnow’ was hardly the right one — he might almost have said ‘stickleback’. This remark caused great amusement in court, as some present thought he was referring to Mr. Russell.” A much fuller report appeared as “Mr. Bertrand Russell’s Appeal”, Common Sense, 4 May 1918, p. 225, which continued Atkinson’s speech on the questionable importance given to prosecuting BR: “They thought this was an occasion which would justify the intervention of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the appearance of my learned friend, who is a junior counsel of the Treasury, for the purpose of conducting this prosecution.”

  • 9

    H.O. The Home Office, which was ultimately responsible for prison governance, although most administrative duties fell inside the remit of the Prison Commission, a statutory board created in 1877.

  • 10

    Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy A popular account, published by Allen & Unwin in 1919, of the main doctrines put forward in BR and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica (1910–13). Written in prison, it was based on a series of public lectures, “The Philosophy of Mathematics”, BR had given in London between 30 October and 18 December 1917.

  • 11

    (which I have, thanks) These were his lectures on “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism”, which were published in four installments in The Monist (Oct. 1918 to July 1919; 17 in Papers 8). The lectures were delivered extempore, taken down by a stenographer and transcribed, and the typescript sent (presumably after correction by BR) to America for publication before BR went to jail. Later in the current letter BR asked if Jourdain, The Monist’s English editor, was planning to start publication in the July issue. BR did not see proofs from The Monist. What he had in prison was no doubt a copy of the typescript (next year he told Unwin he believed he had kept a duplicate [BRACERS 47470]) for the purpose of working it up into a book, described in Letter 9 (see note 20) as “Elements of Logic”, which would situate logic in relation to psychology and mathematics and “set forth [the] logical basis of what I call ‘logical atomism’”. BR did not turn to this task once he had completed the Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy because of changes in his philosophy which took place while he was in prison. Propositions, which had previously been eliminated from his philosophy, were reinstated, but as psychological rather than purely logical entities. This changed BR’s view of the relation between logic and psychology and made it necessary to treat psychological matters (work which eventually appeared as “On Propositions: What They Are and How They Mean” [1919; 20 in Papers 8] and The Analysis of Mind [1921]) before tackling “Elements of Logic”. The latter work, alas, was never written.

  • 12

    Psychological Review In prison BR read several articles from volumes 18–23 (1911–16) of The Psychological Review. See Papers 8: 326–8 for a list of his philosophical prison-reading.

  • 13

    analysis of belief In Letter 5 BR mentioned belief as one of three main problems he encountered as he attempted to give an account of mind from a largely behaviourist standpoint. It was the most pressing of the three since BR had abandoned his previous theory of belief, the multiple-relation theory, in the face of Wittgenstein’s criticisms in 1913.

  • 14

    G.J. One of the pseudonyms used by Colette. G.J. began to communicate with BR via Personals in The Times before the method of smuggling letters in the uncut pages of books was devised. When this letter was written Colette had placed five messages in The Times: 7 May 1918 (BRACERS 96064), 9 May (BRACERS 96078), 13 May (BRACERS 96079), 14 May (BRACERS 96080), and 18 May (BRACERS 96081).

  • 15

    who is G. The message that Colette placed in The Times on 13 May — “G is right. Happy beyond words. Work improving too. Earning extra £2 week.” — proved too cryptic for BR, yet she was probably echoing the saying of Goethe’s that BR quoted in Letter 2.

  • 16

    Buzot the Girondin to Madame Roland François Nicolas Léonard Buzot (1760–1794), a far-left Girondin deputy in the French National Assembly. His love affair with Madame Roland (née Marie-Jeanne Philipon, 1754–1793) started in 1792, a few months before she was arrested and he had to flee for his life. They smuggled letters to each other while she was in jail and he in hiding. He committed suicide to avoid arrest six months after she was executed.

  • 17

    letter from Buzot … collection From York, where she was acting with a touring company, Colette acknowledged receipt of a fictional “Buzot” letter on 31 May 1918 (BRACERS 113133), calling it “greatly treasured” but indicating she was not sure if BR had received an early message she had sent about it. There were two more fictional letters from Buzot to Madame Roland (Letters 8 and 10); Colette made no distinction between these letters in her acknowledgement. What follows in the text is really a love letter from BR to Colette.

  • 18

    une période de désespoir Probably the period described by BR over Christmas and New Year’s 1916–17 (Auto. 2: 27). He expressed his despair in “Why Do Men Persist in Living?” (1917; 3 in Papers 14).

  • 19

    surtout au jour de ma fête The birthday message in The Times, 18 May 1918, p. 3, col. 2, was: “G.J. — many happy returns today. Very busy. All loving thoughts with you. Bless you” (BRACERS 96081).

  • 20

    Michelet Probably Jules Michelet’s Histoire de la révolution française (7 vols., 1847–53).

  • 21

    Lytton … book The author of Eminent Victorians (1918) had read parts of his new book to friends (including BR) at Garsington. In jail BR read Strachey’s most famous historical work with so much amusement that the warder came to his cell to remind him that “prison is a place of punishment” (Auto. 2: 34). On 1 June 1918, Ottoline reported to BR that Strachey regarded it as “a great honour that my book should have made the author of Principia Mathematica laugh aloud in Brixton Gaol” (BRACERS 114746).

  • 22

    Bernhardi General Friedrich Adam Julius von Bernhardi (1849–1930), an extreme Prussian militarist. In 1912 he published Deutschland und der nächste Krieg (translated as Germany and the Next War [1914]) which advocated German expansion through wars with France, Britain, and Russia.

  • 23

    punishes Florence Nightingale for killing Herbert As Secretary at War (a junior ministerial office responsible for army affairs but not military policy) during the Crimean War, Whig statesman Sidney Herbert (1810–1861) appointed professional nurse and social reformer Florence Nightingale (1820–1910) to oversee the medical treatment of British troops in Scutari. The two were already confidantes and developed a conviction that both army health and the entire War Office administration required a radical overhaul. Promoted to Secretary of State for War at the start of Lord Palmerston’s second ministry in 1859, Herbert endeavoured to implement his and Nightingale’s ambitious reform agenda. Afflicted with Bright’s disease, however, his frail health was broken by War Office obstruction of his plans and (according to Strachey) Nightingale’s relentless badgering. He died shortly after being elevated to the peerage as Baron Herbert of Lea (he was also a son of the 11th Earl of Pembroke). See Eminent Victorians (London: Chatto & Windus, 1918; Russell’s library), pp. 162–5.

  • 24

    To Eva: Sincerest commiseration BR was referring to her letter of 13 May 1918 (BRACERS 1855), where she wrote about how she was trying to look after parcels of books for him while in a hurry and running late.

  • 25

    my logic lectures The lectures BR referred to here were “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism” (B&R C18.07), mentioned in his message to Wildon Carr. The Monist, which Jourdain co-edited, didn’t start publishing them until October 1918; they did proceed at the rate of two per quarterly issue. BR did not see proofs. “The verbatim reports”, he told Unwin on 23 March 1919, “were sent to America before I went to prison, and though I believe I kept a duplicate, I have not seen them since” (BRACERS 47470).

  • 26

    how much money I shall get from him for them Frank replied on 31 May with Jourdain’s response: “We will I think print two of the articles in each number. I cannot tell whether they will begin in July but Carus is pleased with them. If 4 appear in July and October, about £60 will be paid” (BRACERS 46916). In fact, BR got nothing for the articles in 1918. Open Court’s owner, Paul Carus (1852–1919), died the next February, and Jourdain told BR repeatedly he should not bother Mrs. Carus about payment for the time being. Jourdain died in October. BR was finally paid the sum of £245.2.0 in December 1919, presumably for all eight articles.

  • 27

    I like reading about the Amazon Ottoline had lent him H.M. Tomlinson, The Sea and the Jungle (1912). For more on the book, see Letter 9.

  • 28

    Adam Street not un-home-like Rinder worked for the Conscientious Objectors’ Information Bureau at 11 Adam Street, off the Strand in the City of Westminster. On 25 May, however, she told BR that she would be leaving Adam St. as of 1 June to assume “new duties” (BRACERS 79611) at the NCF’s main office at 5 York Buildings, Adelphi. It is not clear how her role changed, but a few days later she reported to BR (via Frank) that she was not happy “working at Y.B. <York Buildings> under E.E.H. <Hunter>. Feel useless but must give it a trial” (6 June 1918, BRACERS 46918).

  • 29

    Tell Miss Mackenzie … glad West is to be published Dorothy Cousens (née Mackenzie) had been the fiancée of Lieut. A. Graeme West (1891–1917). The Diary of a Dead Officer, a collection of his letters and memorabilia edited by Cyril Joad, was published in 1918 by Allen & Unwin.

  • 30

    Young Heaven A one-act tragedy by Miles Malleson and Jean Cavendish about a touring actress whose brother has been killed in the war. The play, with Colette in the lead role as Daphne, was put on in Oxford in 1919 and again in Hull in 1925. It was published by Allen & Unwin in 1918. Bennitt Gardiner, who followed Colette’s career closely, thought it one of her best roles (“Colette O’Niel: a Season in Repertory”, Russell, o.s. nos. 23–4 [autumn–winter 1976]: 31–2).

  • 31

    sorry about 2nd Thoughts Miles Malleson, Second Thoughts, a booklet on World War I and his eventual C.O. status, was published in 1917 by the National Labour Press, Manchester. It was banned, though not as quickly as BR expected, which explains the reference to its “longer run”. Colette had communicated in a letter from Frank to BR, 7 May 1918 (BRACERS 46912), using the name “Percy”: “Second Thoughts has gone the way of Black ’Ell.” The book, ‘D’ Company and Black ’Ell: Two Plays by Miles Malleson, was published by Hendersons in November 1916. Almost immediately the book was seized from the publishers under the Defence of the Realm Act (Constance Malleson, After Ten Years [London: Cape, 1931], p. 110).

Textual Notes
  • a

    Psychological Review Initial caps editorially supplied.

  • b

    soutiennent The correct French spelling is “soutient”.

  • c

    malgrès The correct French spelling is “malgrè”.

  • dils The correct French is “elles”.
  • e

    2nd Thoughts Initial cap editorially supplied.

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